Unrest in BJP, allies' ranks

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Delhi
  • Published 1.04.04
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New Delhi, April 1: The BJP and its allies have reached seat-sharing pacts in various states, but the rank and file on both sides in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and Tamil Nadu are fuming.

Activists of the saffron brigade vandalised the state party office in Hyderabad for swapping the Himayatnagar Assembly seat with Malakpet. Telugu Desam workers staged dharnas at NTR Bhavan, their party headquarters, protesting against the “raw deal” meted out to some leaders and the gifting of winning seats to the BJP.

The local BJP leadership is livid over the “meagre” allotment of seats to the party by the Telugu Desam. In 1999, the BJP was given 24 out of 294 Assembly seats and eight out of 42 Lok Sabha seats. This time, it has got 27 Assembly seats and nine Lok Sabha seats.

In Chittoor, Chandrababu Naidu’s home district, former MLA Lakshmi Devamma quit protesting against the allotment of Tamballapalle seat to the BJP.

Although senior BJP leaders, including Union minister Bandaru Dattareya, played this down saying the BJP has “national priorities” and had to make some sacrifices so that the NDA retains its 1999 tally of 36 Lok Sabha seats in the state, local leaders are upset. Half-a-dozen BJP leaders quit and some even attempted self-immolation in the last few days.

Desam legislator Narayan Rao Patel quit in protest against the handing over of Mudholi seat in Adilabad to the BJP.

A BJP worker from Malakpet tried to douse himself with kerosene in front of Dattareya’s residence protesting against the swapping of the seat.

Similar reports have come in from Mehaboobnagar, Kadiam and Prodattur constituencies.

In Bihar, the BJP is miffed with the central leadership for giving 24 out of 40 seats to the Janata Dal (United). It is also upset about the Dal (U)’s decision to contest about seven seats in Jharkhand, which may harm the BJP’s prospects in the state.

State leaders resent the manner in which the Dal (U) usurped the post of leader of the Opposition in the Assembly because it had one MLA more than the BJP. Dal (U) legislature party leader Upendra Prasad Kushwaha was appointed leader of the Opposition replacing BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi last week.

Four BJP legislators — Rameshwar Prasad, Ram Pravesh Rai, Acharya Vishwanath Baitha and Ram Janam Sharma — went on record criticising the Dal (U) for the haste in which it displaced Modi.

“BJP had received the mandate of the people in the last Assembly election as the main Opposition party in Bihar. The party leader Sushil Kumar Modi performed his responsibility as Leader of Opposition in the House with all sincerity. Now, with the number of JD (U) legislators going up to 37 in comparison to 36 of the BJP (with two JDJP MLAs joining it), the JD (U) showed great haste in getting the Leader of Opposition post,” they said.

“We do not want to aggravate the issue when the general election is under way. But we will impress upon our central leaders after the polls to review the ties between the two parties in the state.”

In Tamil Nadu, BJP leaders are peeved with Jayalalithaa’s offer of six out of 39 Lok Sabha seats. Even those are not considered winning seats, party sources said. The BJP had contested eight seats in 1999.

The denial of Pudukottai, a seat won by Union minister S. Thirunavukkarasar, South Chennai and Sivaganga seats to BJP also triggered resentment.

In Orissa, the BJD-BJP pact came under strain with growing distrust between workers of the two parties. BJD chief Naveen Patnaik denied tickets to 17 sitting MLAs, sparking widespread unrest.